The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

August 25, 2013

STEELERS NOTEBOOK| LaRod optimistic, but frustrated by injury

PITTSBURGH — LaRod Stephens-Howling hopes he’s shown enough in training camp to make the Pittsburgh Steelers squad, but the Greater Johns-town graduate definitely would like to get back on the field.

Stephens-Howling sat out the Steelers’ 26-20, overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night at Heinz Field. It was the second consecutive game that he was sidelined by a knee injury that he said is improving.

“It’s definitely tough,” Stephens-Howling said. “You want to put as much good film out there as you can, and I feel like I haven’t been getting a lot of film lately because I’ve been sitting out. I can’t wait to get back.”

Stephens-Howling, who spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, feels like he has a good chance of making the Steelers’ 53-man roster in his firsrt  season with his hometown team.

“I feel I do, but I need to put some more film out there,” he said.

Stephens-Howling is likely to be a third-down back for the team, which drafted Le’Veon Bell to supplement a position that lost Rashard Mendenhall in the offseason. But Bell and Isaac Redman also sat out Saturday night’s game, giving Felix Jones, who was acquired from Philadelphia last week, a chance to play. He carried eight times for 29 yards against the Chiefs.

“It’s been rough,” Stephens-Howling said. “We’ve had some guys dropping down, but that’s part of your position. You’ve got to pick up where the next guy left off. We’re trying to stay strong.”

Stephens-Howling is hoping to play in the Steelers’ final preseason game on Thursday night at Carolina.

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First things first: The Steelers’ first-team offense ended its touchdown woes – sort of. Ben Roethlisberger’s 13-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Dwyer marked the top unit’s first touchdown of the preseason. Of course, enthusiasm over it was tempered a bit by the fact that the Steelers only needed to drive 21 yards for the score, thanks to a turnover on downs by the Chiefs.

Roethlisberger was 13 of 19 for 166 yards to go along with the touchdown and had a quarterback rating of 113 before being replaced by Bruce Gradkowski to start the second half.

“We did some nice things,” Tomlin said of the first half. “We’re a juggling catch away from it being a very productive half offensively. I’d like to see us win the line of scrimmage more definitively. Not enough in terms of the running game to talk about at the half, but a decent start.

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